In 2012, a Houston Chronicle photojournalist made a video featuring readings by, among others, Barbara Bush, Quanell X and Mayor Annise Parker, to celebrate March 2. It was not only Texas Independence Day but, coincidentally, Sam Houston’s birthday, and was certainly something to mark. However the video had nothing to do with anything Texas. March 2 is also the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, who was born March 2, 1904. The celebrities read from “Green Eggs and Ham.” Those other anniversaries went pretty much unnoticed, and still are.
This brings up a question: Has Texas lost its mojo? It used to be on March 2, on the UT campus in Austin, the Longhorns would unroll a huge Lone Star flag down the Tower while the band played Texas tunes. Wonder if they still do that? Texas Exes still hold parties on or near that date. San Jacinto Day, April 21, used to be celebrated with parades and floats and bands, and survivors of that fight would gather on the battlefield. The Aggies mark April 21 with a Muster for Ags who had died in the past year. It was said that in 1942, as U.S. forces were pinned down on Corridor, Aggies – and there were 27 of them — got together on April 21 to hold Muster. Others say that was just a tale. On April 21, 1946, 128 Aggie troops gathered on Corregidor for Muster.
We still see our flag on bumper stickers, food, beer mugs and on the seat of pants, but some don’t understand. One of my brothers was a Marine infantry officer in Vietnam. He flew a Texas flag over his bunker until a superior told him to take it down. “People might think it’s a Viet Cong banner.” When the Astros were in a playoff with the Boston Red Sox in 2018, Houston was plastered with Texas flags. This was right after a hurricane hit Puerto Rico. A Boston sports writer wrote that it was sure nice of Houstonians to fly the Puerto Rican flag in sympathy. The shape of the state is easily recognizable. We see Lone Star-shaped ashtrays, dog dishes and boxes of candy. We also have a state seal, the Lone Star surrounded by a Christmas wreath. Bill Hobby, a former – and decidedly best – lieutenant governor, told me that he had attended a convention of lieutenant governors, and they held an outdoor barbeque. Hobby wore a big belt with an oval metal buckle sporting the seal. Another lite gov asked about it and Hobby explained it was the Texas seal. “Gee,” said the guy, “wonder if we have one?”
One reason for this disinterest in things (or thangs) Texas is the immense addition here from out-of-state and out-of-country newcomers. Texas’ population increases by 1,000 people A DAY. Half are births, the other half are from foreign lands or the other 49 states. (Do you ever get the idea that the Border Patrol is watching the wrong river?) In Harris County, more than a million residents — one in four — are foreign-born. This is one reason in Houston there are more than 150 foreign consulates and permanent representations. Some are honorary, but 89 are full-time. Oops. Make it 88. There goes China. These 1-million foreign-borns might not know, or care, about Davy Crockett, rodeos or what happened here before they arrived.
I once met a woman whose family moved here from Up East. She objected to her children having to learn about Texas history. Also, Texas law requires students recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States flag and the Pledge of Allegiance to the Texas flag each day. Maybe her kids take a knee. Even the storied Texas Rangers are getting slammed. Certainly we have lost our power in Washington like when Lyndon Johnson ruled the Senate and Sam Rayburn controlled the House. Somehow Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert just don’t fill those shoes. We might have more punch if we took better care of ourselves. According to US News & World Report among the 50 states Texas ranks 37th in health care, 34th in education, 15th in the economy. We are 33rd in infrastructure and 39th in opportunity. Texas is 33rd in crime and correction and 40th in natural environment. US News overlooked a most important category. Texas ranks Number 1 in state executions: 841 since 1930, 563 since 1976. So there is still hope.
Ashby is rank at firstname.lastname@example.org